Linking ISI with terrorism reflects policy disarray in US: Gilani

Linking ISI with terrorism reflects policy disarray in US: Gilani

"We strongly reject the assertions of complicity with the Haqqanis or of proxy war (in Afghanistan). It will only benefit the enemies of peace. Only terrorists and militants will gain from any fissures and divisions," Gilani told a gathering of diplomats yesterday at a hotel here.

"The allegations betray a confusion and policy disarray within the US establishment on the way forward in Afghanistan," he said. Gilani contended that several countries had "maintained direct contacts with the Haqqanis" and singling out Pakistan was "not fair". However, he did not identify these countries.

He also said Pakistan could not be "held responsible for the security of US, NATO and ISAF forces in Afghanistan". Gilani's comments marked the latest round in a war of words between the two sides that was triggered by US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen's accusation that the ISI had supported the Haqqani network in carrying out a string of terror attacks in Afghanistan, including an assault on the US Embassy in Kabul.

The premier described the US allegations as a "propaganda blitz against Pakistan" that "vitiates the atmosphere and is counter-productive". He added: "It tends to ignore the sacrifices by the people of Pakistan and negates all that we have endeavoured to achieve over the last so many years."

Gilani said there was "concern over the deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan" and the recent attacks in Kabul, including the one on the US Embassy, "were disquieting".

Gilani said Pakistan had condemned the attacks and that he had personally gone to Kabul in the wake of the assassination of the Afghan Peace Council chief, Burhanuddin Rabbani, to express solidarity.

The Prime Minister called for greater coordination between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US to cope with the situation in the war-torn country and to usher in peace and reconciliation.

"There is the need for close policy coordination between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US. We need to develop a clear and coherent strategy together, a clear roadmap so that all three...are on the same page and work together for achieving the stated goal of reconciliation and peace," he said.

At the same time, Gilani contended that foreign troops in Afghanistan were not doing enough to stop cross-border militant raids against Pakistan. "...there have also been numerous attacks on Pakistan launched from sanctuaries and safe havens in Nuristan and Kunar in Afghanistan. It is as much the responsibility of the Afghan National Army, NATO and ISAF not to allow such cross-border militancy," he said.

Gilani reiterated that over 35,000 Pakistanis had died in acts of terrorism and that the US knew a large number of al Qaida operatives were "interdicted, captured and killed by our security forces". Pakistan’s credentials in the counter-terrorism campaign were "impeccable and unquestionable", he claimed.

Joint operations and coordination are essential for coping with the situation in Afghanistan but this could only "take place on the basis of mutual respect", he said.
"Let's avoid mutual recrimination and recommit ourselves to working together for eliminating terrorism and for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan," he added.

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